April 22, 2024

Architectural Concepts Guide

Elevating Home Design Standards

1,000 Pieces of glass blocks breathe new life into ABEZ’s freshly renovated workspace

6 min read

Tasked with transforming former commercial premises into a new workplace for themselves, ABEZ Design looked no further than the vernacular of their hometown in Spain, for Reforma 1,000 Pieces. Founded by Diego Abellán and Inma Jiménez López, ABEZ sought to reinterpret elements commonly employed in real estate construction, a practice that has notably shaped the built Levantine landscape. Here, a deliberate exploration of elements conventionally associated with classic housing development—pavers, white plaster, marble, pool tiles, wooden carpentry, and white interiors—was undertaken for newer applications, resulting in a refined, succinct office design that eschews sleek comfort and modernity.



ABEZ renovated a former commercial space into their new workspace in Spain called 1,000 Pieces | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
ABEZ renovated a former commercial space into their new workspace in Spain called 1,000 Pieces Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


According to the office based in Alicante, Spain, these elements were applied more thoughtfully, creating a workspace that not only respects and references the local built context, but also conveys a pleasant sense of well-being and comfort. Citing it as their most special work so far, the refurbishment project encapsulates “a deep, personal journey spanning several months of quiet dedication and self-reflection. We aimed for the project to manifest our sensitive approach to architecture and interior spaces through a reinterpretation of the place where we [grew] up,” state López and Abellán.

Aspiring to manifest a profound connection with its surroundings through elements that come together in timeless, intimate, and sincere design gestures, the Spanish interior designers and architects reinterpreted real estate and construction elements employed in their region (Orihuela, Alicante), typically and long considered to have a “tacky aesthetic.” With this renovation, this perception was turned around in the elements’ implementation, from their analysis to experimentation with forms and materials, to shift towards a more sensitive and refined outlook.



Translucent pavers, a resource traditionally employed to separate and illuminate rooms was repeated as motif a thousand times, giving the project its name | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
Translucent pavers, a resource traditionally employed to separate and illuminate rooms repeated as a motif a thousand times, giving the project its name Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


The former commercial space featured a rectangular geometry, with an open area as its main space and a smaller section at the back which hosted a storehouse and a restroom. Valuing the power of staying loyal to the original space while maintaining as much material as possible, ABEZ’s intervention preserved the spaciousness and height of the main space while introducing an element that could accommodate a more private and welcoming area, wanting to strike a balance between an imposing scale and a more human. A circular pillar in the centre of the contextual design served as a guiding element, enabling organic circulation around it. 1,000 Pieces by ABEZ maintained its smaller section at the back, now hosting a kitchen and a restroom for the office.



A circular pillar in the centre of the space served as a guiding element, enabling organic circulation around it | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
A circular pillar in the centre of the space served as a guiding element, enabling organic circulation around it Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


In departure, the openings of the previous windows were enlarged to fit into the new space’s proportions and aid the increase of natural light streaming in. The only new incorporation, a stronger volume, is the circular room that provides a more private meeting room and a technical corner for the archive and print area of the renovation architecture. At the same time, the circular entrance to the kitchen is a freshly added void on the pre-existing wall that divided the warehouse and the main room previously.



A suggestive curve leads into the meeting room through two clean arches into a cosier setting | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
A suggestive curve leads into the meeting room through two clean arches into a cosier setting Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


Once this functional strategy was determined, the next step was to establish an interior-exterior connection. To augment dialogues with the street outside without compromising on the influx of sunlight or the users’ privacy, a resource traditionally employed to separate and illuminate rooms was considered: translucent pavers.

This motif, repeated a thousand times, succeeded in creating a translucent facade design that projects light, shadows, and diffuses shapes in an envelope. This glass lattice also worked as a thermal and acoustic buffer for the interior design and gave rise to the project’s name—1,000 Pieces—directly referencing the 1,000 pieces of glass blocks articulating the facade. To quote the founders, “We considered this glass skin as a powerful element in the project that introduces the reflection and journey through materiality and local aesthetics [that] we developed during the design process.” Concurrently, a slight twist was added to the office’s entrance to create a compact threshold, establishing indirect views between the inside and outside through the glass facade.



The interiors feature clean-cut geometric shapes and a monastic colour palette that defines the clear, calm, and cosy atmosphere of the office | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
The interiors feature clean-cut geometric shapes and a monastic colour palette that defines the clear, calm, and cosy atmosphere of the office Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


The interiors feature clean-cut geometric shapes that define the different zones of the open and brightly lit workplace design: A pale blue table contrasts with the vibrant blue of the armchair placed at the entrance; a suggestive curve leads to the meeting room, through two clean arches, into a cosier, warmer setting illuminated by a triangular light ingress. Further in, a circular geometric opening provides a glimpse of the office’s farthest space, which houses a compact kitchen, and a restroom dressed in typical glazy blue pool tiles. This interior sits sincerely under a ceiling of services concealed by a thick white layer. Conversely, the façade is resolved with the lattice made of translucent pavers covering all the openings to the exterior and a thin layer of scraped white plaster, “an iconic image of real estate developments in the area,” according to the Spanish architects.



The circular entrance to the kitchen is a freshly added void on a pre-existing wall | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
The circular entrance to the kitchen is a freshly added void on a pre-existing wall Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


Abellán and López elaborate on how the choice of materiality was considered a crucial route to establish the ‘clean’ atmosphere the clients wanted for the 98 sqm space. They meditated on the several kinds of materials that they were familiar with, especially from the point of view of those not related to the architecture, construction, or real estate sectors in the region. “This point of view was the one we wanted to exalt in the project. That is why, pavers, white plaster, marble, pool tiles, wooden carpentry, and white interior were a must,” they share.



The glass lattice also works as a thermal and acoustic buffer for the workplace’s interiors | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
The glass lattice also works as a thermal and acoustic buffer for the workplace’s interiors Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


The monastic colour palette employed too, significantly extends the idea of rendering 1,000 Pieces with a clear, calm, and cosy atmosphere, integral for a peaceful ambience at work. “That is the reason why natural tones, atemporal colours such as green from natural plants, whites and warm light dress the space. As in every project, we try to maintain a timeless and neutral aura that invites you to enjoy every corner,” they continue. Complementing these spaces are small colour explosions, catering to the design lovers’ new HQs. Genuine design pieces such as ABEZ’s Links sofas from SANCAL in deep blue follow the shelves full of art pieces such as a Sabine Marcelis lamp, apart from material and picture samples from their projects.



Natural tones and atemporal colours, apart from an overall pale white colour palette and warm light dress the office interiors | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
Natural tones and atemporal colours, apart from an overall pale white colour palette and warm light dress the office interiors Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


“We feel that the studio embodies an inclination to revisit its origins, returning to its core with a heightened sensitivity. This perspective places a timeless, intimate, and sincere emphasis on appreciating local architecture. These premises follow us in every project and client, that’s why our projects are deeply connected with the environment and its surrounding elements, endowing each space with a distinctive identity that naturally unfolds within every project. We try to protect the importance of context and timelessness in each project, trying to make each story genuine for the ones who will live it,” explains ABEZ Design.



Complementing the monastic tones are small colour explosions such as fruits in the compact kitchen and a restroom dressed in typical glazy blue pool tiles | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
Complementing the monastic tones are small colour explosions such as fruits in the compact kitchen and a restroom dressed in typical glazy blue pool tiles Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


“Through this exercise, the conclusion is reached that it can be more interesting how a material is applied than the material itself, [and] how the application criteria can influence the creation of a specific atmosphere,” the founders assert. The refurbished space speaks to shifts in design perspectives, where traditional, conventional materials, elements, or aesthetics with particular associations are given fresher applications. The afterlife of materials and spaces, when taken on with purpose (as witnessed in 1,000 Pieces), reminds those who interact with it how true originality in design is not just about novelty, but in viewing and applying newer visions in newer manners to extant elements.



Floor plan of 1,000 Pieces | 1,000 Pieces by A B E Z | STIRworld
Floor plan of 1,000 Pieces Image: Courtesy of ABEZ


Project Details

Name: Reform 1,000 Pieces (Reforma 1,000 piezas)

Location: Orihuela, Alicante (Spain)>

Area: 98 sqm

Year of completion: 2023

Architecture office: ABEZ

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